Reasonable Adjustments in Tribunal Hearings

News  |   7 March 2024

Written by
James Millican, Paralegal

In the case of Bella v Barclays Execution Services, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has recently held that disabled parties can request to record hearings.

The Claimant suffered from PTSD, sleep problems, anxiety, and depression, and he claimed that being allowed to record the hearing would lessen his cognitive load and allow him to take part in the hearing and reduce his disadvantage. He provided evidence from his cognitive behavioural therapist, that supported his assertions.

The tribunal placed little weight on the evidence of the Claimant’s therapist as she held ‘no clinical qualifications’. Ultimately, the tribunal refused his request, relying on the fact that the Claimant had taken part in other hearings which had not been recorded, and the decision was appealed by the claimant.

The EAT held that the adjustment should have been made and the tribunal’s decision to refuse it was unlawful. In reaching this conclusion, the EAT noted that the tribunal has a duty to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate the disabilities of claimants. The EAT also decided that the alternatives suggested by the tribunal were inadequate and unsuitable, and that they were too ‘dismissive’ of the evidence produced by the Claimant’s therapist.

This case sets an important precedent, in that it will likely result in the tribunal giving further consideration to making further reasonable adjustments should a party with disabilities request them in the context of a hearing.

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